How to Take Pics Like a Pro With Your iPhone
Just an FYI, tips on taking good photos w/your phone is basically the same as taking good photos w/you big dSLR camera. Light, composition & subject matter count! — thanks @mkz for the list request.
- •Your most important tool in photography isn't your camera or equipment. It's your eye.People always say things like "Wow! Great photo! You must have a great camera!" Then they get all confused when I tell them I shot it with my iPhone. Telling someone they got a good photo because of the camera is like telling a writer "Hey awesome story! You must have a great computer word processing program!" Take a moment to look at what your trying to photograph and understand how to photograph it in the best way. That's the best way to start no matter what camera is in your hand.
- •That said, understand your equipment. The iPhone has a small sensor and lens. It tries to get lots in focus with a long depth of field. It also works much better in natural light. Once you start shooting in indoor light things get thrown off.If you're shooting food, overhead shots are great with a iPhone, that's why a lot of Instagram pics are shot that way. Landscapes are pretty good too because they get everything in focus. But images where the front item is in focus and the background is blurry is harder to do. You can force your iPhone to do it but it involves getting uncomfortably close to the subject. So only try that with an inanimate object (or a willing subject). Finally try to shoot with diffuse light or natural light.
- •Check your composition.Like in comedy or writing, there's a rule of thirds in photography. Divide the screen into thirds like a tic-tac-toe grid and compose your image according to those lines. Instead of placing the person of subject you want to photograph dead center, try off center on the third. Frame the picture to the sides of the photograph and notice negative space (the space where nothing is vs the subject matter) when composing.
- •Look at the light.Where is the light coming from and where is is hitting the subject? Are things in shadows? Do you want your subject in shadows (moody) or in the light (more upbeat)? There no right or wrong answer despite what people say. Just be sure you know what you are going for and use the light to your advantage. All that said the flash on your iPhone is terrible. If you need to use artificial light, get a buddy with an iPhone to use his/her camera as a light source. Instant off camera flash!
- •What's the subject of the photo? Does it look good? Is it interesting? Did you capture an awesome moment?Here's one tip photographers don't talk about much. If your subject is ugly, it's an uphill battle. Sure there are tricks around photographing ugly but really lets be honest. Ugly is ugly. So take the time to make the subject pretty (unless ugly is what you're going for). If it's food, clean it up or style it a bit. If it's a person, make sure the angle is flattering - shoot from above not from below. Or just be sure to capture the right moment. That drip from the burger makes the photo right?
- •Fill the screen. And shoot in the format that you're going to share the pic in.Mobile photography is most often viewed on a mobile phone. That means there's a tiny screen that people will look at your photo on. Fill the screen with the subject and make sure to compose to the edge of the screen. If your photo is going to shared on Instagram (or ListApp) consider shooting in a square format. You'll compose your shot better and it's one less step of not having to crop when up uploading.
- •Move around and get different angles.People are used to shooting with the camera at eye level. But crouch down or move up. Get on a chair and shoot down or get on the ground and shoot up. Move around and find the best angle for the shot. Sometimes that's close up. Sometimes it's far away. Sometimes it's directly overhead. The beauty of digital photography is you can take as bunch of photos and see which one looks best.
- •If you want to get badass, buy an attachable lens for your iPhone.I have 3 lenses and they are novelties. Fisheye, macro and wide angle. Honestly I don't use them as much as I used to. They are a pain to put on. But you can get nice effects with them and you do look super cool when you pull them out. The fisheye is great for selfies (you'll always be able to get you & your friends in the frame without the annoying selfie stick) and the macro is surprisingly fun. But don't bother with expensive lenses. They're all toys. Buy the cheapest that fit your phone.
- •When in doubt, filter or black & white.Yeah it's a cheat. But things look cool if you through a filter on it, especially if they are shot in bad lighting. Worse case, just black and white the shot. Drama! VSCO has some fun filters to give that hipster look. My new fave photo app is Afterlight. But even doing someone touch ups or filters in Instagram can help. (BTW I got uncomfortably close to this buffalo when I shot it. My partner was not happy with me.)
- •Finally, understand sometimes you aren't going to get the perfect shot. And that's ok.Not all photos have to be technically perfect. Like this shot of one of my best friend's kid with my partner. Is it a great photo? No. The lighting is yellow and the composition is kind of boring. But you know what? I don't care. All weekend long my partner was trying to make friends with this kid & the kid was super shy. By the end of the weekend he finally let my partner hold him. This isn't about a great photo, this is about recording a moment. That's way more important that the perfect shot.